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Appellate court upholds life sentence

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Duane Turner will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering a Ball State student in 1994. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claims that his sentence was unconstitutional and that his attorney was ineffective.

Turner and Larry Newton went to the BSU campus with the intent of robbing someone. They picked up Chris Coyle and offered him a ride home. They demanded money from him, forced him out of the car, and then Newton shot Coyle once in the back of the head. Turner then shot Coyle in the shoulder. He died from the first shot.

Turner was convicted of felony murder and other charges, but only the murder conviction and a conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury are at issue on this appeal. The jury was unable to recommend life imprisonment without parole, so the trial court held a sentencing hearing. The judge sentenced Turner to life without parole.

Turner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his sentence as unconstitutional based on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), and alleging that he received ineffective trial and appellate assistance. The same lawyer represented him at both stages.

The post-conviction court denied relief; the Court of Appeals affirmed. It relied on Holmes v. State, 820 N.E.2d 136 (Ind. 2005), in which the Indiana Supreme Court held the verdict returned during the guilt phase sufficed to establish that “the jury found, beyond a reasonable doubt, aggravating circumstances” rendering Holmes eligible for the death penalty. Apprendi’s requirement that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt” was met by the nature of Holmes’ convictions, the high court held.

Here, the jury unanimously found Turner guilty of murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The jury necessarily found the existence of one statutory aggravating circumstance alleged by the state, that Turner intentionally killed Coyle while committing or attempting to commit robbery, Judge Patricia Riley wrote in Duane Turner v. State of Indiana, 18A05-1112-PC-697.

The appellate judges found Turner’s attorney did not provide ineffective assistance at the trial level or appellate level, except for one issue on appeal. They found his attorney ineffective by not appealing his attempted robbery conviction on double jeopardy grounds. The judges remanded with instructions to reduce the conviction to a Class B felony.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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